How a Jeans Company Saved Richard Childress & Dale Earnhardt’s NASCAR Career

Published 01/03/2022, 4:48 AM EST
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 10: Team owner Richard Childress stands on the grid during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 10, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)


There was a time when NASCAR team Richard Childress Racing, with Dale Earnhardt on board, were broke. Or rather, it was due to the Intimidator coming on board that they were broke.

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In a 2016 interview, Childress recalled how, after the 1981 season, he was “maxed out” to somewhere around $75,000 in debt. This was because he had bet everything on signing a new driver called Dale Earnhardt.

“I did everything I could do on my home, I sold everything I thought I had that I could sell, just to run Dale those (11) races,” Childress said. He added, “I had borrowed some money from folks and everything just to run those (11) races.”

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But then, help came in the form of their primary sponsor, Wrangler.

One day, Ed Bowman, President of Wrangler Jeans, invited Childress for lunch and the team owner told him about the depth of the situation.

And after a week, Bowman called Childress again, as he recalls, “He called me and said, ‘I want you to come over again. I want to talk to you.’ I came over (to Wrangler headquarters in Greensboro) and he handed me a check for $50,000.”

“So that really helped me going into the following year.”

NASCAR- Dale Earnhardt Sr.
COURTESY: GETTY

Richard Childress confesses it could’ve been worse if not for Wrangler’s help

Childress described that in the check’s absence, “it would have been tough.”

He said, “It’s hard to say. I never looked back. I just looked ahead, and that was one of the things that helped me look ahead.”

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“Hell, who knows? Maybe I’d still be in debt – or worse. It’s not easy. Those were some tough days,” Childress added.

In the end, the gamble Childress took on Earnhardt, and the gamble Wrangler took on Richard Childress, paid off in an extraordinary way. The pages of NASCAR history will forever remember Dale Earnhardt as one of the greatest drivers and RCR as a legendary team.

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And this is something that is a fact but doesn’t sound like one, yet one can’t help but wonder – How different NASCAR would’ve been if not for Wrangler Jeans and a check?

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Shaharyar

446 articles

Shaharyar is a Formula 1 & NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Journalism from Amity University, he has been a passionate follower of motorsports for better part of the decade. A Max Verstappen and Ferrari supporter, he dreams of a pairing of the two in future.

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